That's when I got some new feedback on my book. And it wasn't even just about my book, my writing.
It was about my genre.
I have SciFi and YA Fantasy WIPs I'm working on. But my first WIP, the one I've invested nearly two years of my life on, my learning project, the one that makes my hubby cry when I read him a new revision, is an adventure romance.
Intellectually, I know this is a subjective business. I know there are many (all right, lots) of people who sneer at romance as a genre. Even now I'm not sure why the condescending tone of the feedback hurt so much. At that moment I wanted to sit down and cry. My instinct was to quit.
Yeah. Yeah. I get it. Honest.
And well padded.
Having a little armor wouldn't hurt.
A safety net might be a good idea.
What about you? Have you faced genre elitism or bias before? Are there people, either readers or writers, who seem to think the quality of their writing is better if only by virtue of their genre?
When I posed my discouragement to a writers group I'm a member of through my church, I received some wonderful insightful comments about the nature of romances. I've listed them below if you're interested. Some of the comments are quite profound, imho.
Tiffany Graybill Williams
You need to talk to Donna [Hatch]. She had a woman thank her for her romance novel. It helped her escape while her son was going through cancer. It's a great story! We were all given many many talents and we shouldn't waste them. Keep writing your romance, it brings joy and hope, and I'll keep writing my fantasy, and together we'll turn our 1 talent into many talents we can share with the world.
Shelli Proffitt Howells
... God did not give you the talent and the compulsion to write without a reason. ... Your values shine through your writing, and those values can have a wonderful impact on a huge audience through romance novels. Don't let anyone discourage you!!!
People can be so abrasive and judgmental. It really ticks me off that people can be so ignorant. There is nothing wrong with romance and your talents are no less important than a philosophical writer. (((hugs))) keep on keeping on! You uplift many!!!
Theresa Small Sneed
Don't give xxx your 'peace' ... xxx can't take anything away from you that you don't consent to - so know that xxx's simply wrong, for whatever reason, and KNOW that what you are doing is absolutely wonderful and essential ...
Pamela Stott Williams
Don't be intimidated! Romance is good. Romance is rich. Romance helps us keep commitments and aim for ideals. Nobody should be better at writing about the most important personal relationship in life than Latter-day Saints. We understand what eternal marriage means, and we understand that choosing an eternal companion is the most important decision we make. We were individuals in premortality, but we came here to form family ties that we take with us into eternity. That's a good thing to discuss in literature!
Joan Sowards Every story needs a touch of romance!
Donna, there is a world of women out there searching for clean romances to read, and there are increasingly oh! so few places to find them! These readers need you. They need what you write. They need to know they can open a romance book and feel "safe" when they do so. You can help to give them that. Don't give up and don't let others depress you. If some of us don't write clean romances, where are these readers to go?
Romance has always gotten a bad rap. Those naysayers are the noisy minority. Shake them off. I know tons of women who need an escape from their crummy lives and they get it through a good romance novel. I'm one of them. And I get emails every week from people who love having an escape where two people beat the odds to get together. In preparation for a conference class I'm teaching on romance, I polled my FB friends. Here's what one person wrote: "The good ones show how important and life altering being loved and loving can be. We do things we wouldn't have considered before and make decisions that seem foolish without the existence of life-altering love and commitment. Love can bring out our better selves and inspire us to reach beyond ourselves." Amen.
Wendy Archibald Jones
One of my favorite lines in the LDS remake of Pride and Prejudice is when Darcy (who owns the publishing company) and Elizabeth (who submitted her manuscript) are having a conversation. She says, "It's NOT a romance." And he says, "It's not a put-down, it's a category." It's a category that people LOVE to read! Keep on keeping on, despite the doubters.
Heidi L Kleinman Murphy
Tell xxx to lighten up. Romances can help us learn what right to say and what NOT to say and do. Romances can be an escape not only for people in crummy marriages, but for people in good ones too. Everybody needs to play dress-up once in a while or they get all stale and need to be tossed out with the old bread.
Forgive xxx for xxx ignorance. We all know that not all romances are soft porn bodice-rippers, but not everyone else does. Love xxx. Educate xxx if you can, and let xxx comments wash off like gentle rain. :-)
Susan G. Haws
Donna,I don't know the stats but Romance is a big industry. Everyone, even people we love have their prejudices, that does not make them right. Romance writers bring a lot of happiness, escape and comfort to a world in need of happy endings.
Personally, I only like fiction that has some romance. Oh--and a great story.
Sarah Miller Eden
I wrote something of a rebuttal to this kind of comment on my blog back in April: http://www.sarahmeden.com/
Heather Horrocks Author
It's most hurtful when xxx attacks and downgrades what we do. Sometimes it's a subconscious you're-going-for-your-drea
haha I would really stick my tongue out at xxx but then I'm only 19 so I still act immature a good percentage of the time lol
And from one of my critique partners
You've gotten too much good feedback on this book to let one person - xxx or not - derail all your hard work. That's why none of my xxx have read it. They say they want to, but I don't want to see the rejection. If xxx acts like that with your book, I'd hate to see xxx reaction if xxx read a romance that had been kicked up a notch or three!
I have a feeling you're close to xxx ... Sleep on it, do NOT let it sway you. I bet in a day or two, it will end up being fuel to get through those last edits. Just imagine the look on xxx's face when that agent requests your book. You can hand xxx an autographed copy!!!!!!!
How's that for encouragement?